A Conversation with California Attorney General Bill Lockyer – April 22, 2005

California Attorney General Bill Lockyer addressed the public at an event hosted by The USF Institute of Nonprofit Management.  Notice for the event stated that Mr. Lockyer would address the future of the California nonprofit sector, the growing focus on ethics and accountability, and trends in the regulatory environment.  Unfortunately, he shed little light on these subjects.

He did, however, talk briefly about his office’s concern with self-dealing in the nonprofit sector and said that this would be the next targeted area for scrutiny following the already enacted Nonprofit Integrity Act.  Pamela Davis, E.D. of the Walter and Elise Haas Fund, commented that she hoped that the AG would approach this area with a scalpel rather than a hatchet, explaining that nonprofits often find directors with sought-after expertise from companies who do business with, and are significant donors to, the nonprofit.   She stated that a total ban against self-interested transactions could do great damage to the sector.  Lockyer avoided a direct response.  He later stated that people’s fears to new regulations were typically 5 to 10 times worse than the actual impact.

He closed his discussion by thanking leaders of the nonprofit sector and telling the "starfish story," the story about making a difference by saving one starfish at a time.  Nice story for a politician, but not comforting to a sector that wants the AG to consider the impact his office can have on the entire sector, and not just on individual cases.